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Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists,
Chapter XXIX, by S.H. Mitchell, 1886


CHAPTER XXIX

[pp 267-276]

THE IOWA VALLEY ASSOCIATION - THE EDWARDS BROTHERS AND OTHER PIONEERS - TOLEDO IN 1855. ASSOCIATION ORGANIZED IN 1858. - UNFRUITFUL FOR A TIME BUT NOT ABANDONED - 1858 TO 1886.

RECORD was made in a former chapter of a Church organized in Toledo, Tama county, Iowa, in 1855. The next year it was found in the Cedar Valley Association. Rev. G.G. Edwards pastor, 18 baptisms and 58 members. In 1857 a Church was organized in Hardin County, called the Eldora Church, though most likely not in the town of Eldora. Churches were soon afterward founded at Cedar Creek, Green Mountain, Grinnell, Redman, and Richland. For two or three years the only pastors were Brother G.G. Edwards, his brother E.S. Edwards and A. Dwight.

In September 1858 pursuant to a call of the Toledo Church, a convention met in that place to organize the Iowa Valley Association. Churches represented were Eldora, Green Mountain, Grinnell, Redman, Richland and Toledo. A sermon was preached by Rev. G.G. Edwards. Dr. Jarvis was Moderator, and H.S. Cloud clerk. The territory of the new organization was in Tama, Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek, and later, Grundy counties with parts of Benton and Iowa. In 1859 the first anniversary was held at Green Mountain. Deacon John Higgins was chosen Moderator and F.D. Rickerson clerk. Brother Rickerson was preaching at Grinnell. The name Eldora disappears and Cedar Creek is added. It may be but a change of name of the same church. The membership is now 163 in five churches. Already four Sabbath Schools are reported with 32 teachers and 135 scholars. Rev. J.C. Miles of Brooklyn was preacher. Rev. G.G. Edwards read an earnest Circular letter on "Present efforts and responsibilities."

Met in 1860 at Grinnell. Brother Rickerson preached the sermon, Moderator Higgins, clerk, Rev. Robert Turner. Columbia and Marietta Churches were received. Grinnell reports 15 baptisms and Toledo 12. Rev. Dexter P. Smith represented the Stste Convention, and Thomas M. Ind of Burlington was present. Brother Rickerson read a Circular letter on "The importance of studying and applying the laws of efficiency and success in religious and Church work." In 1861 met at Marietta. Deacon Higgins Moderator C.D. Kelsey clerk, and in 1862 at Toledo. Same chairman with Joshua Burley clerk. It seems a little remarkable that in this central part of the State the growth should, these early years, have been so slow, and that so little notice should have been taken of this rich valley by the State Convention. From 1857 to 1860, however, Rev. G.G. Edwards was under appointment of the Home Mission Society, and in 1859 and '60 Brother F.D. Rickerson. About this time - 1862 - Rev. A.A. Sawin removed from Marion, Iowa, and settled at West Irving, Benton County, where he began with much zeal the establishment of an Institution of Learning called "Addison Collegiate Institute."

Green Mountain was the place of meeting again in 1863. R. Turner preacher and Moderator, Spencer Day clerk. The Edwards Brothers, G.G. and E.S. are both in the Union Army. The Marshalltown Church had just been organized and reported 16 members. Rev. W.H. Bibb is preaching at Honey Creek Church which comes in this year, though said to have been organized in 1860; H.S. Cloud at Green Mountain, and A.A. Sawin at Toledo. Not a baptism reported. It is, we believe, the only instance in the history of the State where an Association came together and held its anniversary and there was not a single baptism for a whole year. Here there was but one in two years. Five years history have added but one to the number of churches, and 30 to the number of members.

In 1864 met in Marshalltown. Rev. John Cauch (?) preached the sermon, Deacon Higgins Moderator, Spencer Day clerk. Rev. A.A. Sawin died of small pox at West Irving this year. Rev. R.D. Hartshorn at Grinnell, and W.H. Bibb at Honey Creek, are the only pastors. One solitary baptism. The outlook was truely [sic] discouraging enough, yet this field was not abandoned nor the existence and future of the Iowa Valley Association despaired of. In 1875 [probably a typo, should be 1865] the Association met again at Grinnell. Rev. A.D. Lowe preached the sermon, officers the same as last year. This meeting at Grinnell was a very inspiring one. The West Irving and Helena churches were received. Also the Xenia Church, Hardin county. Rev. A.D. Lowe is pastor at Toledo, and Rev. A.F. Willey, late of Burlington, at Marshalltown. Rev. J.C. Miles, Helena, J.C. Corey, Honey Creek, P.S. Whitman, West Irving, and Brother Dunbar and H.H. Half at Xenia make up the increased ministerial force. Rev. P.S. Whitman and his accomplished wife are in charge of the school at West Irving. The rebellion has been suppressed and Rev. G.G. Edwards has returned from the south with his heart all aglow in the interest of the Freedmen. He preached and took a collection amounting in money and pledges to $110.73. At 3 P.M. on Sabbath the congregation repaired to the water side and pastor Hartshorn baptized three persons in the fellowship of the Grinnell Church.

The meeting in 1866 was at West Irving. Rev. L.S. Livermore., who is preaching at Grinnell, delivers the annual sermon. Officers unchanged. Grinnell have improved their meeting house and Marshalltown are building. The Grinnell meeting house was at first unfortunately located, and had afterwards to be removed to a more eligible site. Rev. A.F. Willey has been compelled, by feeble health, to resign at Marshalltown. Rev. G.G. Edwards is again preaching at Toledo. Rev. B.W. Stilson has labored part of the year as missionary in a new and neglected field in Franklin county. The anniversary in 1867 was at Xenia. Rev. P.S. Whitman preached the sermon. O.A. Holmes, Moderator, Spencer Day, clerk. Brother Holmes, after nine years of pioneer work at Webster City and other points, takes up the work laid down by Brother Willey, at Marshalltown. Rev. A. Carpenter is pastor at Xenia. This meeting was made interesting by the presence of Rev. Dr. Kinkaid, long a missionary in India.

Toledo entertained the association in 1868. Brother Holmes preached and presided. L.A. Scott, clerk. The Friendship Baptist Church, of Timber Creek, and the Grundy Center Church were received. A.B. Masterson and A.C. Brockway, delegates. Rev. Thomas Brand has become pastor at Grinnell. Brother Brand spent a short time with the church in its earliest years. Marshalltown has been greatly blessed, 74 having been baptized and they now number 170. A church has reported at Orford this year and last, E.G.O. Groat, pastor. The annual meeting in 1869 was at Marshalltown. Thomas Brand preacher and Moderator, H.A. Brown, clerk. A church has appeared at Eldora, E.P. Barker, pastor. Rev. H.A. Brown is preaching at Toledo. It has been a prosperous year, especially in the Marshalltown Church. Brother Holmes has baptized 61 and Brother Brown, at Toledo, 33. One hundred and twelve baptisms were reported in all and 610 members in 10 churches with 6 pastors. Growth has begun in this region as it had not been seen before. The largest number of baptisms in one year previous to 1868 was 31. Rev. A. Carpenter has begun work at Grundy Center.

Met in 1870 at Grinnell. Rev. H.A. Brown preached the sermon, O.A. Holmes Moderator, Spencer Day clerk. Tama City Church is received, L.L. Gage, pastor. Rev. Myron Root is pastor at Eldora. Marshalltown has 238 members, and her church property is valued at $18,000. Tama City already has a $7,000 house, Grinnell a $6,500, and Toledo a $2,500. In 1871 Grundy Center was the entertaining church. Rev. T. Brand preached the introductory sermon. Officers unchanged. Steamboat Rock has been organized with 14 members, M. Root pastor. W.L. Cook is preaching at Eldora and A.V. Bloodgood at Irving. Rev. T.W. Powell with enfeebled health has resigned at Davenport and takes up lighter work at Tama City. Seventy baptisms are reported and 691 members. Union Church is received.

Met in 1872 at Tama City. Rev. A. Carpenter preached and presided. Spencer Day clerk. The Point Pleasant Church was received. Brother Holmes has close a very successful pastorate of five or six years at Marshalltown and goes to Tama City. He is succeeded at Marshalltown by Rev. L.J. Fisher. The annual meeting in 1873 was at West Irving. A. Carpenter Moderator, H.A. Brown clerk. The Brooklyn Church was received from the English River Association. O.M. Merrick pastor. There is a new organization called Oakwood Church, C. Spragg, pastor. The name of the village and church of Orford is changed to Montour. Rev. A. Orcott is preaching at Xenia. The Association is now having a healthy growth; 70 baptisms are reported against 17 last year.

In 1874 the meeting was at Steamboat Rock. Rev. D.N. Mason has succeeded Brother Fisher at Marshalltown. The Union Church after reporting only a year or two disappears. Many churches have very brief history, Officers, O.A. Holmes Moderator, H.A. Brown clerk. Brother Brown preached the introductory sermon. In 1875 Marshalltown again entertained the Association. Rev. E.P. Barker preached the sermon, W.L. Cook Moderator, H.A. Brown still clerk. Rev. J.C. Bywater is preaching at Brooklyn and Rev. E. Wood at Irving. Grundy Center dedicated a good and commodious meeting house in December, 1875. This church has shown a healthy though not rapid growth. Brother Carpenter has been its only pastor since its organization in 1868.

In 1876 the Anniversary was at Grundy Center. Rev. J.C. Hurd Moderator, E.P. Barker clerk. Re. W.L. Cook preached the sermon. Rev. A.H. Post is preaching at Brooklyn and Gifford. The latter is a new organization with 27 members, 9 of whom are received by baptism. Rev. J.C. Hurd has become pastor at Marshalltown, succeeding Brother Mason who removes to Marion and becomes pastor there and secretary of the State Convention. Brother Hurd at Marshalltown reports 24 baptisms, Pastor Holmes at Tama City 53, Carpenter at Grundy Center 11, and Cook at Pt. Pleasant 10. Whole number of baptisms 130. The largest in the history of the Association. Rev. J.C. Bywater of Brooklyn died during the year. In 1877 the Association met at Tama City. Rev. J.C. Hurd preached the annual sermon, O.A. Holmes Moderator, S.H. Mitchell clerk. Rev. A. Carpenter has resigned his long and successful pastorate at Grundy Center, and S.H. Mitchell has succeeded him. Brother Brand has served nine years as pastor at Grinnell, H.A. Brown eight at Toledo, and O.A. Holmes five at Tama City. These with Brother Carpenter's eight years of service just closed make an encouraging record for pastoral permanency.

In 1878 Grinnell was the place of meeting. Sermon by S.H. Mitchell. Officers the same as in 1877. The Marengo Church transfers its connection from the English River Association to this body. Rev. George E. Eldridge is pastor. This is really a restoration of the Marengo Church which was dropped from the records of its Association some years ago. Marengo is a hard field for a Baptist church, but Brother Eldridge is doing a good work for the time being, and he will have his reward. Rev. J.C. Hurd has resigned at Marshalltown and become pastor of the 1st Church of Burlington. Marshalltown reports 23 baptisms but no pastor. Rev. George Houghton is preaching at Eldora and has led the church in a movement to secure a church home. In 1879 the Association met at Eldora, in their new church home. Brother Houghton, who was ordained here last April, has resigned and Rev. T.F. Babcock is on the ground ready to enter the vacant place. Rev. O.A. Holmes preached the sermon and was Moderator, and S.H. Mitchell still clerk. Rev. Thomas Brand has resigned after eleven years constant service at Grinnell, and Rev. H.C. Leland is pastor. Rev. H.A. Brown, in addition to his pastoral work at Toledo, has for a number of years been county superintendent of schools in Tama County. He has now resigned at Toledo and they are without a pastor. Rev. T.W. Powell has become pastor at Marshalltown, and has set about the arduous task of freeing the church from a $4,000 debt.

In 1880 the Association met at Marshalltown. The time of meeting has been changed to the middle of the week. Rev. I.W. Reed, who seems to have been a visitor, preached the sermon. Hon. Delos Arnold was Moderator. Clerk the same as for the three years previous. Baptisms 125, members 927. This is the third time in the history of the organization that the number of baptisms has exceeded 100. Grinnell reports 69; but Bro. Leland, after this great ingathering, has resigned and removed to Chicago. Rev. C.E. Taylor, late of Illinois is his successor. Brother Powell, having accomplished the work at Marshalltown for which his faith and tact so well fitted him, the entire removal of their troublesome church debt, has removed and become pastor of the Grand Avenue Church, Milwaukee. Rev. J.C. Johnson is preaching at Toledo. Rev. A. Carpenter has been preaching at Oakwood and Point Pleasant since 1878. The church at Grundy Center, twelve years old, is receiving missionary aid for the first time in its history; the occasion now being a debt of $500, caused by the failure to collect pledges made at the dedication of its meeting house in December, 1875. The debt when the pastor Mitchell first took charge of the church in 1877 was considerably larger.

The Anniversary in 1881 was at Toledo. Rev. T.F. Babcock preached the sermon, S.H. Mitchell Moderator, Spencer Day, after an interval of eight years, is again clerk. Rev. A.C. Wilkins has settled as pastor at Marshalltown. The Gifford Church, virtually extinct for a number of years, has been reorganized, and recognized by a Council, but with limited prospect of durability as a church. Brother Taylor has resigned at Grinnell and gone to Bedford, Iowa. Rev. A.J. Delano labored a part of the year at Marengo, but the field does not give the promise of success. In 1882 Grundy Center again entertains the Association. Rev. J.L. Coppoc is the preacher A. Carpenter Moderator, Spencer Day clerk. Brother Coppoc is preaching at Toledo. S.H. Mitchell closes a pastorate of five and-a-fourth years at Grundy Center and goes to take charge of the church at Danville, Iowa. The Grundy Center Church have been regularly paying the interest and $100 a year on the principal of their debt.

Tama City has the Association in 1883. Rev. H.B. Foskett, who has become pastor at Marshalltown, preached the sermon, Rev. T. Brand Moderator, S. Day clerk. Rev. Thomas Anderson is ordained pastor at Grundy Center. Harry Woodson is preaching at Eldora, Rev. C.H. DeWolf at Grinnell, and Rev. D.T. Richards succeeds pastor Holmes after eleven years of labor at Tama City. Brother Holmes goes to Nebraska. Few men in Iowa could be more reluctantly spared. Rev. H.L. Steele is preaching at Marengo. A church has been organized at Ferguson. In 1884 Grinnell entertained the Association for the 5th time. H.B. Foskett Moderator, Spencer Day clerk. In the 27 years' history of the body up to 1884 Brother Day has been its clerk 12 years. Rev. C.H. DeWolf after a brief stay at Grinnell, becomes pastor of the First Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids, and Rev. E. English has removed from Vinton to Grinnell. Rev. A.F. Howell is preaching at Toledo in connection with Belle Plain. [sic] Rev. H.H. Clouse of Van Horne is supplying Ferguson. Brother Harry Woodson was ordained at Eldora in April.

The Association in 1885 convened at Marshalltown. Elder Brand again serving as Moderator, Thomas Anderson clerk. Brother Anderson was the preacher of the annual sermon. Baptisms reported 71, members, 759. This Association has changed but little in territory. It has never had a thousand members, and for several years the number has been diminishing. But it has an honorable record. In one respect it seems to have excelled. That is in its long pastorates. 1886 exhibits increased diminution. Only 11 baptisms and 673 members. Brother Anderson has resigned at Grundy Center.

Updated 22 Feb 2016 by William Haloupek

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